The Guardian: Effective Social Media Analytics – featuring Andrew Bruce Smith (+others)


The Guardian ran a nice piece on Effective Social Media Analytics by Danny Bradbury on June 10th 2013. Among the the top notch social media experts featured in the article were Phil Sheldrake, Marshall Sponder and Sharon Flaherty from Confused.com. Oh, and me 😉

I appreciated the opportunity to talk about some of my favourite hobby horses including social media ROI, financial vs non-financial outcomes and how to use Google Analytics to measure the value of social media. All topics that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with.

social media analytics

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Why conversion segments in Google Analytics are sexy as hell for PR (#pranalytics, #CIPR)


I had the pleasure of presenting at the PR Analytics Conference in London last week along with a number of big names in the field including Pleon’s David Rockland and Jim Desler, Worldwide Head of PR for Microsoft.

There was a large audience of senior PR folk in the room. My presentation was about how PR pros could use Google Analytics (GA) to better effect. I had 25 mins to cram in as much as I could.

One of the things I highlighted in my talk was the use of multi-channel funnel analysis in GA.  In simple terms, it allows you to determine the direct and indirect contribution that various digital marketing channels make to your site conversion goals.

However, I didn’t have time at the  conference to go into the use of conversion segments.

Which was a shame because they really are very sexy (no, really).

Here’s a simple explanation for those unfamiliar with the concept.

GA allows you to see what mix of site interactions deliver a conversion eg sale of a product, video view, whatever. It also shows you the value of those interactions relative to the conversion.

Here’s an example. This is for a small (but real) e-commerce site selling a simple £11.99 product (normally you’d have a whole range of different products and different prices – but hopefully you can extrapolate from this).

Converstion Segments in Google Analytics

For this particular web property, it would seem that the most common conversion path for a sale is for people to arrive via one single search before purchasing. There are more complex interactions (not least #8 here which saw the person revisit the site 18 times directly before finally buying something!).

As part of my PR Analytics presentation, I talked about the problem of attribution in marketing and PR with relation to goals and objectives (most sales or comms processes have multiple steps – but which one should get the credit for the final transaction? Should the first step in the process get 100pc of the credit? Or the last step? In the absence of giving fair credit to all relevant steps in the conversion process, many people have opted for the last step ie the step immediately before the conversion.)

In PR terms, that typically means that much PR work would get no credit – because it rarely contributes the last step in the process. Its role is generally assistive to the overall process. However, the introduction of multi-channel funnels into GA last year allowed marketeers (and PR pros) for the first time to see both the direct and indirect value being delivered in relation to a defined goal.

SlingshotSEO recently produced an excellent whitepaper which showed how you can combine conversion segments with a multi-touch attribution analysis to determine which channel you may be overvaluing or under valuing if you are using a last attribution model.

They also had some great insight into the most common conversion paths (based on an analysis of over 23.5m transactions).  Two organic searches seems to be the most popular conversion path with two or more interactions. And referrals and organic search are consistently undervalued as conversion channels.

Which brings me back to the relevance to PR (at least online PR coverage).

Traffic from links in relevant online editorial coverage fall into the referrals bucket. If referrals are consistently being undervalued on a last attribution basis, it does seem to lend credence to the theory that PR does contribute indirect value – and now we have a way to determine exactly what the value of that contribution might be.

But here’s the thing. You have to define at least one goal in order to make this work.  No goals, no insight.

Brings in to sharp relief the fact that without defining concrete goals, you are almost certainly creating unnecessary pain and heartache for yourself. And your online PR efforts are almost certainly not getting the credit they deserve.

I’ll be looking in more detail at multi-channel funnel analysis and conversion segments in my strategic management presentation at CIPR headquarters, Russell Square, London, on Wednesday 28th  March on using web analytics to inform communications strategy and planning.

Using Zendesk to power a PR consultancy website


Anyone who has looked at the escherman site recently will have noticed it has changed.

We’ve ditched Squarespace and taken the bold step of using Zendesk as the framework for the entire site.

Why did we do this?

Zendesk is a brilliant web based helpdesk software product (disclosure: client).

However, the more we looked into it, the more we realised that the help desk metaphor could be applied to many familiar aspects of both traditional and online PR. So we thought we’d go the whole hog and build our entire site around Zendesk. We’ve been very pleased with the results so far.

Here are some of the things we really like:

Easy customisation: Zendesk provides a very easy way to customise both the look and the functionality of the site. Adding extra functionality via widgets is very simple. We particularly like the ready made integrations with a variety of 3rd party products such as Salesforce.com

Social media integration. We can monitor Twitter within Zendesk – any relevant Tweets can be instantly converted to a ticket – and assigned to the appropriate individual. Or can form the basis of an instant comment thread that can be posted in an appropriate forum.

Voice integration. We are beta testing Zendesk Voice.  Already available in the US, this will be arriving in the UK in the not too distant future. In simple terms, it allows us to have an integrated call handling system set up in minutes. Imagine PR firms being able to have a complete and automatic log of every journalist call and interaction.

From a training perspective, being able to hear how account execs and account managers deal with journalist enquiries could be very valuable. Or experienced media handlers could share how they deal with journalists on the phone.

The possibilities are endless. We’ll keep you posted on how we get on in the coming weeks.

Free 46-page Internet Marketing Strategy briefing whitepaper from @E-Consultancy! Download here now!


First things first : E-Consultancy has produced a most excellent 46-page Internet Marketing Strategy briefing dcoument – free to download by clicking on the link (as I’ve said before, E-Consultancy briefing papers are always high value – easily justifies the annual subscription many times over).

I’m blogging about this because E-Consultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein asked me to (along with 30,000 others)  – see below for his original e-mail. As you can see, this is part of an E-Consultancy experiment into content marketing and SEO – and a very clever one too.  We all get something from it for taking part.

So – if you wouldn’t mind – feel free to click on the link above and download the document.  And if you are so inclined, do as I have done and blog/link to the briefing paper with the anchor text: “internet marketing strategy”.

___________________________________________________________________

We’ve just published a 46-page Internet Marketing Strategy briefing which is free to download. It analyses five key current trends: customer centricity, channel diversification, data, social media and content strategy.

It’s a bit unusual for us to make something like this free. It’s an experiment in ‘content marketing’ – a hot topic in digital marketing and something we examine in the briefing itself.

Of course we’re interested to see how many visits and downloads we get, the tweets and social mentions, but we’re most interested in getting links to this page (ideally with the link anchor text Internet Marketing Strategy) to see how this impacts our natural search rankings for the phrase ‘internet marketing strategy’.

Currently we’re nowhere near the first page of Google, or other search engines, for this competitive search phrase. But could we be with a bit of ‘content marketing’? And what value might that drive to us?

We plan to publish a mini case study with the results of this experiment which hopefully you’ll find interesting and which might help put more concrete value to the effectiveness (or otherwise) of ‘content marketing’.

You can help with our experiment…

Of course we encourage you to download and read the briefing itself (we think it’s very good) but, ideally, you would send a link to this page (not the file itself – little SEO value there…) to relevant contacts or, even better, you’d link to the page from your blog, via social media etc.

In an ideal world you’d even use the anchor text Internet Marketing Strategy to the link to the page.

I’m sending this email to around 30,000 of Econsultancy’s members globally so, if you do your collective bit, then we should stand a good chance of building some great, and relevant, links…?

Will we shoot up the rankings as a result? Or get punished for the suspiciously quick build-up of links with the same anchor text? Who knows… watch this space.

Obviously we’re not incentivising you to do this in any way because that would be “paid links”. 😉

All the best and thanks for any help.

Ashley

Ashley Friedlein
CEO
Econsultancy

Using Zendesk as a Press Office help desk for journalists


If you think about, a press office is basically a help desk for journalists.

The terminology may differ, but many of the processes are similar. An IT support desk will talk about support tickets – a press office will describe it as a journalist enquiry. Either way, both need to be dealt with and resolved (answered) as quickly and efficiently as possible.

With this in mind, it occurred to me that Zendesk(*) could be a very cost effective way for both PR firms and and in-house departments to manage press enquiries and press information generally.

Set up takes 5 minutes – you have a complete audit trail of how enquiries are dealt with. You can upload lots of standard PR information such as press releases, backgrounders, images, etc. Customisation is straightforward. Twitter integration slick. Plus lots of useful analytics.

And because it is a SaaS based service, you can start small and scale up depending on your needs (it’s ability to scale is amply demonstrated by the fact that companies like Twitter, Groupon and SAP use Zendesk as their help desk software). Cost wise, entry level begins at around £5 per user per month. It’s early days in our use of it, but the potential is obvious.

What do you think?

*Declaration of interest: we are helping Zendesk with PR support around the launch of the new European HQ. But we are also a paying customer – and would happily be using it even if didn’t have Zendesk as a client.

Automated sentiment analysis? Yes, it is possible. And it’s here: Glide Intelligence


Glide Intelligence

The concept of automated sentiment analysis has pretty poor reputation. Not least because expectations have been raised in the past by vendors only to be dashed on the hard rocks of failed promises.

Glide Intelligence – launched this morning to group of 50+ senior comms professionals at the CIPR HQ in Russell Square – thus enters the market with a hefty hurdle of cynicism to overcome.

However, having been involved in the beta testing of the product over the last 12 months – and having sampled many rival attempts at sentiment analysis in the past – I’m very optimistic that Glide Intelligence really does take a major step towards the holy grail of genuine, real time automated sentiment analysis.

So what sets Glide Intelligence apart from rival sentiment analysis systems?

  1. The product hasn’t been knocked together in five minutes. As Glide CEO Sam Phillips said this morning, the project started nearly 5 years ago and has seen a 7 figure investment in its development.
  2. One of the key brains behind the project is Keith Woods-Holder, who, if anyone, is entitled to the moniker of godfather of automated sentiment analysis. He began his career 25 years ago creating advanced mathematical models for the UK Government’s Advanced Planning Unit, followed by 3 years as Research Director at Saatchis. He was then recruited by IBM to set up KWHR, on of the first ever firms to build a commercial sentiment analysis model which was subsequently adopted by brands such as Kodak, Dell, Sony and NASDAQ (Keith does a good line in Michael Dell anecdotes). The man has form.
  3. The technology is based on 4th generation advanced NLP sentiment analysis. It is also context-based, rather than keyword or dictionary based. This means it gets over one of the major traditional objections, namely, that automated sentiment analysis can’t handle irony, sarcasm or slang.
  4. The breadth of sources. Glide Intelligence will monitor broadcast, print, online and social media all at once – and in real time.  For example, you could have a real time, minute by minute, monitor of brand sentiment – and be able to spot where comms issues are developing in real time (just think what Peter Morgan at Rolls Royce could have done with this). An example was given this morning about how the tool could be used to monitor reaction to tube strikes – and where the sentiment is developing and how that is translating across media platforms. And what comms action could be taken – in real time.
  5. It can also be used to trace how a story developed eg if a particular article generates reaction across Twitter, broadcast, etc – and which could provide a blueprint for dealing with a similar issue in the future.
  6. Glide Intelligence provides multiple perspectives – in other words, not only can you view sentiment for your own organisation, but you can see how the world looks through your competitors eyes. The implications of this kind of analysis for comms professionals is obvious.
  7. Full transparency – you can pretty much drill down as far as you want to an original Tweet or article.
  8. The reporting capabilities are immense. More charts and tables than you can shake a stick at.

As you can guess, I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. If Glide can deliver what’s on the tin, then perhaps the long awaited promise of automated sentiment analysis may finally have arrived.

Form an orderly queue for your demo now.

Magic Ink with Dan Gold – DynamoTV episode 2: Panasonic TA1


Latest episode from DynamoTV. Great stuff.

A Tinie (Tempah) bit of magic – DynamoTV episode 1 – Panasonic TA1


How does he get the Panasonic TA1 pocket video recorder into the bottle?

10,000+ views on YouTube in half a day.

Eye popping magic from DynamoTV over the next few weeks: Panasonic TA1


If your image of a typical magician is Paul Daniels, think again.

Dynamo has certainly brought a breath of fresh air to the traditional world of sawing assistants in half and pulling rabbits out of the hat.

And over the next eight weeks he’ll be amazing some of the hottest names in entertainment with his eye popping magic. As well as the rest of us watching it on YouTube.

As the YouTube promo copy says: “Stay tuned for an AAA pass into Dynamo’s world, all captured in full HD on the Panasonic TA1 pocket video camera*.”

Anyway – keep an eye out for some mind bending magic from Dynamo over the next few weeks. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

And don’t forget to follow him on Twitter. Or Panasonic UK for that matter.

*Disclosure: Panasonic is a client

Panasonic TA1

Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility


FX: Fanfare

This the very first Guest Post on In Front Of Your Nose. And I’m delighted to welcome Kelvin Newman from SiteVisibility for this auspicious debut with his take on The Myth Of Press Release Syndication. His views on the subject are highly pertinent – not least because he knows what he is talking about when it comes to SEO – and the PR world on the whole has a very distorted view of what they can, could or should do with regard to press releases and search.

Kelvin is Creative Director at SiteVisibility (without question, one of the top SEO firms in the UK), as well as editor and presenter of  iTunes most popular marketing podcast (again, along with a sub to Econsultancy, people could save themselves a lot of pain and heartache by simply listening to this every week).

Anyway. I’ll shut up. Kelvin, take it away….
Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility

“We all understand that Google’s algorithm is trying to mimic the real world. Google’s reliance on links to determine authority is based on what happens offline. If a trusted person or media outlet recommends a product, the more I trust the recommendation. And the more likely I am to believe them. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why do so many people believe that Press Release Syndication services (who will shill for anyone who hands over the cash) are going to be good for your rankings?

In my opinion, rather than just being a benign distraction for the naive, I’m genuinely concerned that huge swathes of the PR industry think that in order to ‘get’ SEO they just have to start adding a few keywords into their press releases, bung them on a wire. And their clients will  automatically shoot up the rankings.

The links that have the most impact are those that are hardest to achieve; genuine editorial mentions on relevant pages of sites with huge trust. Press release syndication will never enable you to do that. All it does is get you a link from a website which no real person ever visits. There are no real editorial standards being used. So the chances are even higher that really low quality spammy sites are being linked from and tainting your clients by association.

Some people occasionally justify this process on the basis it might help a website get at least some links and coverage from journalists who subscribe to the release wire service concerned. Personally, I can’t see it. When I used to work on Zoo and Arena,  journalists were swamped with releases by email. I doubt they’re going to go out of their way to sign up to get more.

Some services even charge you more to get some shiny social media buttons on your release. What a complete waste of money. I can count on one hand the number of times a press release has been shared in my social networks. And in those cases, it was only because what was contained in the release was hugely news worthy. The latest “me too” product launch or made up survey is never going to get shared socially.

And do you think Google, with their sweat shops of PHDs, haven’t twigged that these websites will link to anyone who pays? It’s not a huge leap to assume that they might have tuned out any minor value that these websites might have had years ago.

So why do people still think it works? Well, it’s easier than actually wrapping your head around how link building really works. It’s a small nod to SEO without actually having to drastically change approach.

However, I can’t be completely against the technique.  It can be a great way to open up communication between whoever is responsible for PR and SEO. It shows that on both sides of the table, we’re starting to understanding that we’ll get better results if we work together.

Of course, it is beautifully ironic that in the area where you most frequently see collaboration between PR and SEO currently, the outcomes hardly justify the effort. The real value of PR and SEO working in unison is in creating stories and content that appeal to the people who have the power to link to – and influence – a site’s reputation in a positive way.  This is where PRs and SEOs should be concentrating their efforts.

In summary, my attitude is if the news release has already been written, it’s mad not to try to eek out a bit of SEO value by publishing it on a wire. It’s not going to do any harm. But anyone who thinks press release syndication is an important link building strategy needs their head testing.”

What do you think?

Comment below like your life depends upon it.

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